Wednesday, 24 February 2016

A few days by the sea, windswept Snapchats, and the best hot chocolate

And now the finale of my posts on Bristol and Weston-Super-Mare (I promise!). Those of you around for part one and part two will remember my local foodie recommendations for if you're ever in the area, and where I stayed. Never has a place given me such wallpaper envy. I came home wanting to white wash my lilac walls and paper over it all. It was the perfect, cosy little B&B to rest our weary feet and warm up after a day out in the cold.


The moment when I heard the clippity clop of horse hooves and was really confused...


It was the most unlikely road to be seeing horses on!

During our stay we'd spent most of our time walking along the coast and exploring the pier. Weston-Super-Mare is a lovely little seaside town which had a nice feel about it. It wasn't crazy packed like Brighton is, which was refreshing. It was so nice to go to a new place, not have any preconceptions of it, and to just live it and explore it for yourself.


The pier was incredible. I have never seen one like it. Inside they had every game imaginable. Driving games, simulators, slot machines, first person shooters.... But set on different levels, it also had space for bigger forms of entertainment. Such as a fun house, hall of mirrors, laser quest, and a multi level go-karting track which looked really fun.


After getting blown around like crazy on the pier and lots of interesting windswept Snapchats later, we wandered further into town to try and track down a candy store that had been recommended to us for the best seaside sticks of rock and honeycomb (the latter being my favourite! I even tried making it here). Sadly it wasn't the right season for this particular store and it was closed. So fingers crossed for next time!

Whilst I love playing crazy golf by the coast, it was too windy a day for it, so we went in search of a coffee shop to warm up our icy hands. We opted for Caffe Nero - somewhere I feel I never hear raved about as much as the other big coffee chains here in the UK. And wrongly so. Because in my opinion Caffe Nero does some of the best hot chocolates. Our table ordered a selection of hot and cold drinks, but the real show stoppers were Caffe Nero's standard hot chocolate topped with marshmallows and cream, and their Milano (the winner by far).


The Milano is like drinking a cup of melted chocolate. It's not as sweet as traditional hot chocolates that you may be used to, however it tastes of darker, better quality chocolate (fine by me!). It's hugely naughty and decadent (particularly if you go all out like me and top with cream and chocolate sprinkles!), but once you taste it, there's no going back to their standard hot chocolate. Or to hot chocolates from most other places, I must add. It's definitely the crème de la crème of hot chocolates on the high street right now. And if that isn't already exciting enough, let's talk about Caffe Nero's beautiful table tops... <3

Have you ever been to Brizzles or the 'Mare? 

Thursday, 18 February 2016

A night in, just you and me

Usually M. and I go out for a meal on Valentine's Day or book ourselves into a hotel, but with pending financial obligations (read: wedding and buying a house), this meant we wanted a bit of a cheaper one this year. We decided on a no gift policy and opted for a night in instead, looking to create - in our words - "restaurant tasty food" for a fraction of the price of what you would pay in a restaurant. Firstly we failed massively on the no gifts rule. I bought M. a box of his favourite macarons from Ladurée (salted caramel and chocolate no less!) and some high % dark chocolate which I figured we could melt down and use as a fondue for the strawberries I'd bought. Whereas M. treated me to flowers - a purple orchid in a beautiful curved top glass vase, dip-dyed in a light blue colour at the base, which contrasts beautifully against the colour of the flowers.

As much as I love freshly cut flowers, it was a nice change to have a potted plant as it's something that should last longer than a week. It's also something that can come to the new house with us

Whilst out and about we picked up some groceries for our home cooked meal. We opted for a scallops and chorizo starter, paired with Marks & Spencer's organic Chilean Malbec, which perfectly complimented the sweetness of the seafood and the spice of the chorizo. The chorizo was pan fried until all those delicious golden juices had escaped and coated the pan, placed to one side, and then we cooked the scallops in the chorizo oil for two minutes on each side. Meaning that they were golden on the outside, but with a melt-in-your-mouth middle. I don't have restaurant grade food presentation down, so the scallops and chorizo were messily artistically scattered onto the plate, Lucy style


For the main course we wanted a French bistro style meal to go with the French film we were watching. We decided on long tender stem broccoli (who knew that broccoli could be so pretty?!), duck and roasted sweet potato for lovely, bright, contrasting colours. A tried and tested trio that we've tried before, and will repeat time and time again, because of the winning combination of saltiness from the duck, the crunch of the broccoli and the lovely charring of the sweet potato (it always tastes better this way!)


My gifts to M. meant that dessert was already in the bag! We snacked on strawberries and chocolate and salted caramel macarons, feeling very French indeed, whilst watching our French film (with English subtitles on for M.!)


One of my best discoveries last week was a candle holder that I found in Sainsburys when I picked up the chocolate and strawberries for M. At just 80p this was an absolute steal and I've been using it non stop since the weekend. I love anything to do with forests / the woods so the fact that this looked like a hollowed out tree stump meant this really caught my eye.


For those of you who want one for yourself (particularly for an amazing 80p!!), I'm really sorry, but I can't link to this online as it doesn't look like Sainsburys have this on their site... Perhaps it was a Valentine's specific in-store only affair? Feel free to check your local Sainsburys though to see if they still have!


So in summary the point of this post being.... although it's nice to treat yourself on Valentine's Day, and so easy to spend ALL THE MONEY, you really don't need to. Because if you're with the right person, it doesn't matter what you get up to, or how much you've spent. My orchid was over £30 cheaper than most of the bouquets we saw (ah, gotta love those specially inflated Valentine's Day prices...) but will last so much longer than freshly cut flowers. And just 80p for a candle holder? Now we're talking business.

Friday, 12 February 2016

16 signs you have caught the lovebug this Valentine's Day


The way you can just look at each other knowingly and not have to say a thing

Every time you see him or her you're like 


You can't help but smile when you think about them


You miss them when they're not with you


Every time your phone goes, there's the thought that it could be them


When it's not them you feel sad


Like really gutted

You need them in your bed at all times


You find yourself doing things / liking things that you usually wouldn't


You're all about texts first thing in the morning and last thing before bed when you're apart


When you're with them, you feel on the top of the world, and stupidly happy


You love them and their flaws. Even though some of them are a bit weird


But that's ok.


You still love them even though some of the things they cook leave little to be desired


Screw nights out, you just want a night in with them


And finally.... the last sign that you've caught the lovebug this Valentine's Day? 
If you resist the temptation to scoff all of these by yourself and actually share them with your loved one. Because that's true love right there.


Cue these cute heart shaped doughnuts. Both of which are limited edition from Krispy Kreme this Valentine's Day. Choose from red (covered in raspberry icing and filled with strawberry mousse) or yellow (topped with vanilla icing and filled with chocolate). The strawberry mousse was light, fluffy and sweet. I've never had mousse inside a doughnut before so this was a nice change. And how was the chocolate filling? I think you all know the answer to this. Because chocolate.


I'm a chocolate doughnut sort of girl through and through, however the lovebug doughnut changed me - it's been the first non chocolate doughnut that I've really enjoyed! Because in the past I was that girl who sat empty handed, sans doughnut, with just a hot drink if the chocolate doughnuts had gone for whatever reason. But I am a changed woman. And I feel like this is just the beginning of my non-chocolate doughnut journey. Although saying that, I did have to pick up some of my absolute favourites, the Chocolate Dreamcakes. That gooey chocolate centre though!


Their Valentine's doughnuts are priced at £15 for a box of twelve, or otherwise you can buy individually from your local Krispy Kreme or supermarket (I find that Tesco usually has a Krispy Kreme stand!). Although I did see these Valentine's doughnuts lately in the service station on the way to Bristol the other week. You can also order these online here for click and collect. If you do manage to find them and buy one, send me your pics on Twitter and Instagram, or Tweet me using the hashtag #curiouslovebug - would love to see your photos and Tweets! :)

*Although Krispy Kreme very kindly provided me with a box of doughnuts to review, as ever all words and opinions are my own
** all gifs from wifflegif.com except the texting / mobile one which is from giphy.com

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

A feast fit for a king at Michelangelo's, Weston-Super-Mare

Following on my last post where I talked about my stay in Weston-Super-Mare, Diane from the B&B where I stayed recommended a local Italian restaurant. Yes I indulge in an awful lot of food photography whenever I go out to eat, but not all of it makes it here on the blog, nor do I write about every single place I eat at. However Michelangelo's was honestly the best Italian I've ever had, and is worth a special mention.

The restaurant is located on the seafront of Weston-Super-Mare. Starters were when we were first blown away. The starters were so generously sized compared to anywhere I've ever been before, and everyone on our table was making very appreciative noises. My mozzarella, basil and tomato starter was beautifully presented on slate (I need some of these in my life!) and having hoped this would be a lighter option, was deceptively filling. Our table also tried the vegetable soup, garlic prawns, fish cakes and garlic mushrooms which was a mammoth portion presented in a huge filo basket. But hands down, the best garlic mushrooms I'd ever tasted. Slightly creamy (but not too creamy, much to my delight!), these were beautifully seasoned with herbs and wonderfully rich in garlic.


By the time our main courses appeared, we all felt a little defeated already. Particularly after two rounds of beers, plus wine. Again, everyone got stuck in, and testament to this restaurant's good food, continued to clear our plates despite being quite so full. I loved the artistic touches to the plates that were like little works of art


It was really difficult choosing just one main course - I saw so many amazing things I would have loved to try. However I was intrigued by the very special sounding mixed fish grill on the specials menu. I bit the bullet and ordered it, knowing full well that it was a "limited edition" dish and probably wouldn't be there should I visit again. And oh my goodness. I really under-estimated quite how big it would be...


No this wasn't a sharing platter. This was a one person meal. This consisted of; swordfish, salmon, sea bass. tuna steak, two scallops, langoustine, monkfish, and accompanying roasted potatoes and salad (the latter two I really couldn't do justice to!). My highlights; the sea bass (melted in your mouth), the swordfish (beautifully seasoned), the monkfish (wonderfully cooked) and the langoustine (had a lovely smoked, charred quality to it). I got through more of it then I thought I would, but had to leave the majority of my tuna and salmon, and a small bit of the swordfish. The staff did very kindly package the fish up for me in a takeaway container, so I could finish up the next day. I was too full for dessert, but everyone else had one (again, a testament to how good the food was!). We loved this quote on their dessert menu:


I sat and finished my wine, and then finished up on a hot drink whilst every waiter and waitress there gathered around to sing happy birthday to my sister - think she enjoyed being serenaded by all the lovely Italian men! ;)

Atmosphere wise, Michaelangelo's was friendly, welcoming and we could hear each other talk (something very important to me when going out to eat!) We were placed on a table against a wall, this wall depicting part of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. However being on one side of the room, our table sat alongside the part featuring a very large man with a bossom and nips that we couldn't take our eyes off of. Because we are very mature human beings.


In summary, I loved my first visit to Michaelangelo's and next time I'm in that neck of the woods, I'll definitely have to make a cheeky pit stop there! They received a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor in 2015, and I can fully understand why! If you're ever in Bristol or Weston-Super-Mare, (or nearby to either of these places), do head on over for what will be a very special meal indeed. For directions and their current menu, you can find this on their website here

This review was written of my own accord and isn't prompted by sponsorship or any form of incentive from the restaurant. Words and love of Italian food, all my own